Sen. Dave Wallace and adult survivors Benjamin Hardy

A bill that quietly passed through the state Legislature last spring will give adult victims of child sexual abuse in Arkansas a new two-year window to file civil lawsuits regarding events that happened years or decades ago, state Sen. Dave Wallace (R-Leachville) announced today at the Capitol.

A 2021 law sponsored by Wallace and state Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) created a two-year “lookback” or “revival” window for such claims, which would typically be barred under a statute of limitations. The window created by the Justice for Vulnerable Victims of Sexual Abuse Act opened in January 2022 and closed last week, on Jan. 31.

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Under that law, a flurry of lawsuits have been filed against Arkansas institutions that allegedly allowed or enabled abuse, including several against northeast Arkansas businessman Ted Suhl and his now-defunct Lord’s Ranch behavioral health facility.

But a 2023 bill has now created a second two-year window, Wallace said today. It opened on Feb. 1 and will close in two years on Jan. 31, 2026, he said, flanked by a group of adult survivors of abuse.

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Wallace said today that more than 20 civil claims have been filed under the first window, though he said later that no one is tracking the lawsuits and he could not provide a list.

The constitutionality of such revival windows is an open question and is the subject of a case now before the state Court of Appeals.

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